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NACS HR Forum Focuses on the Workforce

Human resources professionals from Weigel’s and QuickChek share insights on culture, hiring and retention.
March 4, 2016

​CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The NACS HR Forum wrapped up this week with four retailer-specific presentations from convenience store chains that are rising above today’s human resources challenges and meeting the demands of a dynamic workforce.

Kurt Weigel, recruiting manager at Powell, Tennessee-based Weigel’s Stores Inc., described his company’s unique culture. He’s the fourth generation working in the family business, where his father still comes to work every day at age 79. The company has 63 stores and is growing in a market where yesterday’s ways of doing things were no longer supporting a workforce and regulatory landscape that comes with new sets of challenges. To help strike a balance and adapt to these changes, Weigel’s leadership took a hard look at the company’s culture.

Sure, Weigel’s had a set of values, but they weren’t ingrained throughout the organization, especially at the store level. Leadership simplified the company’s core purpose into a statement that everyone could get behind: “Wow our guests with a positive experience every time.” Weigel’s also developed six core values that are posted inside each store: 

  1. Heroic customer service
  2. Passionately seeking solutions
  3. Create positivity
  4. Do the right thing
  5. Respect and appreciate
  6. Honesty and integrity

Weigel explained that hiring new employees is based on these core values, which helps store managers hire the best candidates for the job. In fact, store manager engagement in the hiring process has helped grow the culture by creating a sense of ownership and investment in the company’s goals and values. Store managers and district managers hold daily “huddle calls,” an opportunity for them to catch up on store-level performance and focus on retention and developing their skills as leaders, as well as foster open and constructive communication.

Bob Graczyk, vice president of human resource at Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based QuickChek Corporation, is a 41-year veteran of the convenience store industry, having spent the past 19 years with QuickChek. The company is growing with five to seven new stores opening each year, all with fuel, and with about 200-300 new positions added to the company’s workforce annually. The stores have an expansive foodservice operation, where menu items are freshly made in-store each day.

With this growth comes a laser-beam focus on hiring employees who embrace the company’s culture and values throughout the chain’s 140-plus stores in New Jersey and New York. “Our business is about our people,” said Graczyk. QuickChek’s website clearly outlines expectations for employment, and there can be as many as 800 job postings listed on the site at a given time. Store managers are given seven days to review applicants that make it through pre-screening, where they are asked a series of questions that align with the company’s core values. 

At QuickChek, new hires go through a series of training, beginning with a full day at one of three of the company’s training centers. The training focuses on culture, what it means to be a part of the QuickChek family, the core values, policies and procedures, practice behaviors and expectations, and undergo the customer recovery process. When a customer has an issue, it’s up to that frontline employee to solve it. “[The employee] makes that decision,” Graczyk said, adding that the company takes care of the employees, and the employees take care of the customer.

QuickChek’s thorough and committed hiring process helps ensure the company is hiring right the first time, and subsequently turnover is low; the current goal for 2016 is 40%. Turnover is also an issue Graczyk is confident the retailer can reduce even further to 30% in 2017. “There’s too many metrics in our world” to determine if employees aren’t pulling their weight, he noted, adding that many managers have “grown up” in stores, which also makes one hiring procedure unnecessary: checking references.

This year QuickChek was named a “Best Place to Work” in both New Jersey and New York, an accolade that helps with recruiting and holds the company accountable to the standards it’s being awarded for.

Tune in to Monday's NACS Daily for more coverage on HR Forum.